How Prince's Duchy estate is paid a packet by Cornwall's dead
More than £500,000 was passed to the Prince of Wales's Duchy of Cornwall estate in the last financial year from people who passed away with no will or living relatives.
Under centuries-old powers known as bona vacantia – the legal term for ownerless land – all unclaimed property belonging to someone who dies in Cornwall automatically passes to the Duchy, which is owned by the Prince of Wales.
The powers date back to the creation of the Duchy of Cornwall estate in 1337 by King Edward III. The estate was created to provide an income for the King's son and heir, Prince Edward, otherwise known as The Black Prince, who became the first Duke of Cornwall.
The Prince of Wales is not entitled to the proceeds or profit on the sale of estate assets, but receives the annual income which they generate.
A total of £552,000 was passed to the Duchy throughout the 2011/12 financial year under the law. Since 2006, the amount adds up to £1,019,000.
The money received through the law is donated to a selection of charities through the Duke of Cornwall's Benevolent Fund, minus an amount for "ex gratia payments and other associated costs" – which accounted for £86,000 last year.
The Benevolent Fund received £450,000 last year, while £154,000 was held back to meet the cost of any future claims on currently unclaimed properties.
The revelation of the ancient law's profitability comes amid heightened scrutiny of the Prince's estate. Anti-royalist campaigners last week launched a campaign demanding the land be handed over to local people.
Anti-monarchy group Republic last night called for the Duchy of Cornwall to be taken into public hands. "The money made from unclaimed property in Cornwall should go where it does everywhere else in the country. It should go to the Treasury and into public funds to be spent on public services," said Graham Smith, Republic's CEO.
A Duchy of Cornwall spokesperson said: "The Prince of Wales decided almost 40 years ago that the bona vacantia funds should be given to charity."
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
New York police shooting: thousands turn out for the funeral of Rafael Ramos
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...